Media Releases

Animal Justice Urges London Police to Enforce Animal Cruelty Laws at Upcoming Bull Riding Event

LONDON—National animal law organization Animal Justice has formally alerted London Police Service (LPS) and Animal Welfare Services about violations of animal cruelty laws that are likely to occur at the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) event scheduled for Saturday, June 1 at Budweiser Gardens.

While the PBR London Classic is billed as an “exhilarating” spectacle where attendees may have the opportunity to witness “wrecks”—where riders are horned or stomped by the “rankest” bulls who are “born to buck”—the bulls have no choice in the matter.

During these events, flank straps (or “bucking straps”) are tightened around bulls prior to their release from the chute, applying pressure, and often significant pain and discomfort, to their sensitive underbellies in order to make the animals buck more violently. 

In Saskatchewan, at previous PBR events, animal welfare officials observed the use of electric prods on bulls who “stalled” either in the chute or while moving to the chute. Additionally, metal spurs attached to riders’ boots may also be used to induce the animals to buck, putting them at risk of back and leg injuries. Under PBR’s rules, a rider can earn extra points by successfully kicking out their leg and “spurring” a bull.

Animal Justice has informed law enforcement about these and other concerns regarding the treatment of bulls during bull-riding events, citing potential breaches of Ontario’s Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act  (PAWS Act). Not only does the PAWS Act prohibit causing an animal to be in distress but it also prohibits exposing an animal to an “undue risk of distress.”

“Bull riding events do not deserve special treatment under Ontario’s animal cruelty statutes. Should the PBR proceed with this event, employing inhumane and outdated methods such as flank straps, spurs, or electric prods, it is our expectation that organizers will be held to account for any violations of the PAWS Act,” said Alexandra Pester, staff lawyer at Animal Justice.  

Because the event is for entertainment and serves no valid agricultural purpose, Animal Justice has also advised authorities it likely violates the Criminal Code which forbids causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. 

Due to concerns about animal welfare, tools like flank straps, metal spurs, and electric prods—and in some cases rodeo events in general—have been banned in jurisdictions including Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Baltimore, the state of Ohio, and the United Kingdom, as well as in Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Port Moody, and North Vancouver. 

City of London Councillor, Samuel Trosow, shares Animal Justice’s concerns. Councillor Trosow said: “Animal Justice’s concerns are very troubling and deserve further scrutiny from the city. I also worry about the public safety and animal welfare aspects of how the bulls are transported and lodged. I‘d like to conduct a review of our existing by-laws to see how London can take any further actions.”

According to an LPS representative, the police service has contacted the Ontario Solicitor General’s office regarding Animal Justice’s concerns and the Solicitor General pledged to develop an “action plan” in advance of Saturday’s PBR event.  

A copy of the request sent to law enforcement officials can be found here.


Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]